Marc Jacobs and Ava Nirui’s New Collection Is Heaven

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Y2K nostalgia is here, baby.

Y2K nostalgia is here, baby. Courtesy of Heaven by Marc Jacobs

Fashion from the year 2000 is officially vintage as of 2020, as Editor Chase Burns noted in his review of Hustlers last year. With that revelation comes an onslaught of nostalgia for an era that, to me, doesn’t feel that long ago.

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Last week, Marc Jacobs and collaborator Ava Nirui launched Heaven, a new 2000s-heavy collection by Marc Jacobs. In many ways, it is a retreading of the brand’s history and impact repackaged to fit “the now.”

Here’s how they describe it:

“Heaven is a polysexual collection that draws upon the impulse of the Marc Jacobs impulse: subversion, teenage daydreams, girls who are boys and boys who are girls. Those who are neither, the multifaceted characters who have made up the Marc Jacobs universe over the past 30 years and recontextualizes them for a new generation.”

The collection has items priced from $45 to $395. There are oversized striped polos, pleated skirts, vests, mesh tops, embroidered raglan tees, barrettes, and pocket pants that the brand collaborated on with artists from around the world, both known and unknown.

Let’s take a look at three of those artists:

GREGG ARAKI

This is hot.

This is hot. Courtesy of Heaven by Marc Jacobs

Writer-director and Heaven-collaborator Gregg Araki is a colossal presence in the collection. Title cards from his film Totally F***ed Up—”more teen angst,” “the alienation generation,” and “your screaming automatic pain,”—are printed on baby and regular tees and featured on hoodies. A still of Araki-muse James Duval’s face even appears on a mesh long-sleeve (above), another reference to Totally F***ed Up and the confessional-style vignettes the characters give into a camcorder. Posters, CDs, and other ephemera from his Teen Apocalypse trilogy are foundational to the collection.
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The angsty, queer sexuality in Araki’s films speaks to the “polysexual,” rebellious, locked-in-your-room-listening-to-the-Cocteau-Twins teen dreaminess of Heaven. Of his films, Marc Jacobs told Dazed, “You just related so primitively to the content and the visual, the angst, the sexuality and everything about it.” Araki’s ubiquitousness in both the clothing and collectible parts of Heaven could spark a little Araki Renaissance, connecting the director to a younger generation. Hopefully some of his notoriously hard-to-find films will become less hard-to-find.

Hairbaby

“Hairbaby” is a cutie. Courtesy of Heaven by Marc Jacobs

While Jacobs and Nirui reached into the recent past to dredge up inspiration, they also brought in up-and-coming artists to collaborate with them on the collection. Beijing-based artist Nhozagri contributed 20 of her Mollusk Citizens, which are soft sculptures made in the style of plush dolls. They’re cute and grotesque. Every one-of-a-kind plushie comes with its own story, handmade zine, and other “surprises you’ll just have to see for yourself.”

While not explicitly of the late ’90s/Y2K-era, Nhozagri’s pieces riff off both the era and angst the brand was aiming for: cute but menacing, sweet but threatening. The creatures look as if they’re transforming—a little like the kind of teen Heaven is trying to speak to. Going through immense change while not quite arriving at the final destination.

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Take me back!

Take me back! Courtesy of Heaven by Marc Jacobs

Another up-and-coming artist featured prominently in both the campaign’s branding and clothing is Alake Shilling, a Los Angeles-based artist who creates trippy, bright, and alluring paintings and sculptures in her everyday practice. For Heaven, she translated her style onto tees, work shirts, pillows, and pouches through a bright green frog with pink warts just chilling on a mushroom.

It reminds me—in a good way—of graphic tees I’d see in JCPenney. Or the huge glittery stickers you could get in toy dispensers at movie theaters for 75 cents. The pairing of the quirky and cute frog with a sly reference to psychedelics is a totally teen thing to want to get away with.

Check out more of the clothing and collaborations here as well as the Shoichi Aoki-shot lookbook here.

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